One of the things that businesses feel they should be doing is sending out email newsletters to their clients and potential clients on an ongoing basis.
The theory is that the newsletter will be keeping them “front of mind” and thus if it happens to coincide with a period when their contact is looking for their services, they will become the natural port of call.
All makes sense. However, there are 2 main problems with this theory:
I’ve seen it happen so many times that the day to day business of actually being in business means the writing of the newsletter is continually put to the bottom of the “to do” list. (Same as those regular blog posts that you’re all writing…).
However committed and enthusiastic you are to your chosen specialist area, there comes a point where you just can’t think of anything else to say. (Though see my series on blog post inspiration for more about this).
Especially when combined with the lack of time, what you end up with is a hastily put together bit of industry information or internal news that – if you thought about it objectively – nobody could really be that interested in, even if they were in the industry or worked at your firm. So anyone not in those 2 categories – ie everyone you send the newsletter to – is going to give up reading your emails very quickly, defeating the object of sending them out to be “front of mind”.
Of course, there are some people who write well-crafted, interesting and useful emails that have their recipients eagerly awaiting their arrival. These people are few and far between, though, and outside of the boys from One Direction they tend to be recognised thought leaders in their industry.
So what can you offer that will be a suitable value exchange for the time you want people to spend reading your thoughts?
(Where a “value exchange” is defined as being them receiving something worthwhile in exchange for their time and – more importantly – their contact details such as email address).
The key is to provide useful info, of the type that anyone in the market for your product or service can actually use for their own ends, rather than a simple generic piece of fluff that anyone with a modicum of interest in the subject could put together.
I’ve always recommended that websites offer something of real value to their visitors, in order that they can gather the contact details of potential customers and thus initiate the sales funnel process with those people who’ve visited the site.
An email newsletter could feasibly fulfil this function, of course – and I certainly recommend you follow up with a sequence of emails to anyone who fills in their details on your site. But in the first instance, faced with the prospect of signing up for a newsletter or being able to download something that actually provides good information and represents solid value, I know which option I’d always prefer when I visit a site.
So what should this piece of information be that we’re offering in this value exchange?
Naturally, it will depend on the industry you’re in, but some simple ideas for what you can base this on include:
Top Ten Uses for XYZ that Help You Save Money
Make the Most of Your XZY by Following our Five Simple Tips
Read How Others have Maximised the Potential of their XYZ for their Own Benefit
Where each of the items above is written from the perspective of giving real and useful advice to the customer, without being a sales pitch or a simple recreation of what exists elsewhere on your site.
You can also look at providing details of complementary products or services, thus enhancing the value of what you sell through giving advice on something that helps it work more effectively.
One point to make here – you shouldn’t be afraid of giving things away. Plenty of people have told me over the years that they fell giving something for free somehow cheapens their brand and makes people think what they offer for sale can’t be worth very much.
My own experience, however, shows this up to be a false assumption, with people being genuinely grateful for the free advice and information they receive, such that they are more amenable to hearing your sales message either immediately or at some point in the future.
And don’t make the big mistake that I see all the time – where you have spent time and effort creating something of real value, then hiding it away at the bottom of the page where very few of your site visitors actually see it. (Or, similarly, featuring a “Newsletter Signup” link on your navigation bar).
You should highlight the value exchange clearly and prominently, so that people are in no doubt that they will receive something of value simply by entering their contact details into your simple form (Name and Email address are all that is required – though phone number would obviously be useful from your point of view, too).
So make sure you offer something beneficial on your site, and the value exchange will be so obvious to your potential customers that they’ll be signing up in droves.